Legal Blog: Ex-CJI Balakrishnan received Letter on A. Raja: SC judge

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ex-CJI Balakrishnan received Letter on A. Raja: SC judge

Justice Gokhale
Source : Times of India

In an embarrassment to former CJI K.G. Balakrishnan, Supreme Court judge H L Gokhale on Tuesday contradicted his claim that he was not aware that it was former Union telecom minister A Raja, who had tried to influence a Madras High Court judge in a criminal case. 

In a statement, Justice Gokhale, who was the chief justice of the Madras High Court at that time, said that in his letter to Justice Balakrishnan, the then CJI, he had clearly referred to the name of Raja. 

Justice Gokhale's statement totally contradicts Justice Balakrishnan's claim that there was no mention of any Union minister in the report sent by Justice Gokhale, then High Court Chief Justice, on Justice S Reghupathi episode. 

"I regret to say that the allegations are absolutely incorrect," Balakrishan had said last week referring to news reports that he had suppressed a letter purportedly written by Justice Reghupathi to him when he was Chief Justice of India. 

In a statement on Tuesday, Justice Gokhale said, "The former CJI has stated in his press conference that in my letter I did not mention the name of any Union minister having talked to Justice Reghupathi over phone to influence him. 

"With respect to this statement I may point out that Justice Reghupathi's letter was already with him and in the second paragraph thereof justice Reghupathi had specifically mentioned the name of Raja. 

"I had no personal knowledge about the incident and observations in my reply wherein are in conformity with the contents of Justice Reghupathi's," Justice Gokhale said. 

News reports had alleged that Balakrishan had suppressed that letter which had purportedly alleged that Raja had tried to influence Justice Reghupathi which cast aspersion on him (CJI) that he had committed dereliction of duty. 

"When this incident was reported in the media, I sought for a report from the then Chief Justice of Madras High Court Justice Gokhale and he sent me a report wherein nothing was mentioned about any Union minister having made a telephonic talk with Justice Reghupathi to influence him," Balakrishan had said.


  1. The Controversy involving Justice Reghupathy, Justice Gokhale and Justice Balakrishnan is a sad thing to have happened because judiciary is the last hope for any civilised society.
    Justice H.R.Gokhale has issued a press note on 14.12.2010 after verifying the records from CJI’s office so I presume it to be correct. On the contrary the former CJI has presumably been relying on his memory and that could precisely be the reason that he has given different or incomplete statements in last few days.

    The matter involved is not very complicated and does not require very high level of intelligence or judicial knowledge we need to use common sense and find the answer to the question -
    Did the CJI received the letter dated 2nd of July, 2009 of Justice R.Reghupathi as an enclosure/ attachment to the letter dated 2nd July of Justice Gokhale.

    According to me answer is “YES”.
    The answer is derived from the letter of acknowledgement dated 8th Aug,2009 sent by CJI to Justice Gokhale, the then Chief Justice of Madras High Court and it has also been verified from CJI’s office.
    Therefore in the interest of justice and in larger public interest the present CJI, Hon’ble Jusice Kapadia should take suo-motu action to bring the truth before the nation and also punish the guilty who tried to conceal the facts and/or who did not take suitable action at that point in time. It is never too late, let the Judiciary rise to the occassion and support and strengthen the hands of brave persons who have shown courage to stand with justice and truth. If the guilty are not brought to justice it will send a very wrong message-" irrespective of your position as high as a Judge of the High court, you can not touch the big politicians and these politicians could get away with any thing and every thing, and will discourage the people in future to stand up and speak against the corrupt and will also strengthen the believe that it is better and beneficial to bow before the powerful politicans, keep them happy by doing what they want and be in their good books so that you could also grab a plum post after retirement."
    If the controversy is not put to rest by a suitable clarification by the CJI as to who between Justice Gokhale and Justice Balakrishnan is correct on facts then will be disastrous for the Nation. I hope the CJI will rise to the occasion and protect the honour and dignity of a sitting judge of Supreme Court, his press note dated 14.12.2010 can not be wrong on facts. The appropriate action should also be taken against those who did not take the appropriate action as per law and circumstances at relevent point in time.

  2. The controversy involving Justice R.Reghupathy, Justice Gokhale and Justice Balakrishnan
    The issue/ question involved in the controversy are very serious and important because it concerns the honesty and integrity of the highest possible judicial authority the CJI and next in line a sitting Supreme Court Judge.
    In the current controversy only one person could be factually correct because the question involved is not subjective and does give any room for discussion or debate or interpretation of a law point, the question is- Whether the then CJI knew the name of the union minister after reading the communication sent by Justice Gokhale the then CJ of Madras HC on 5.7.09? The answer would be yes if the letter of justice Reghupathi dated 2.7.09 was enclosed with the letter of Justice Gokhale. The answer could be found by inspecting the records of the office of the CJI and by reading the reply/ acknowledgement letter dated 8.8.09 sent by the CJI to Justice Gokhale.
    Justice Gokhale, the then CJ of Madras HC and a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court, before issuing the press note dated 14.12.10, has verified the records in the office of the CJI and have also quoted a Para from the reply of the CJI dated 8.8.09 in his press note, wherein the CJI has confirmed that he has also received the letter of Justice Reghupathi dated 2.7.09 along with his letter dated 5.7.09. It is therefore proved that the letter of Justice Reghupathi was received by the CJI and he had the knowledge of its contents, mainly the name of union minister. If you do not agree with my proposition then there could be only one possibility that the sitting judge of SC, Justice Gokhale has issued an incorrect press note even after verifying the records but I am not ready to buy this argument because he has issued the press note after verifying the facts from the office of the CJI, More over if he was not factually correct then he would never have issued the press note and would have either avoided to answer the questions of media or would have relied on his memory and given incomplete information as is being done by Justice Balakrishnan and could have taken the excuse of failing to correctly remember the facts, if in future he was confronted with the factual position as per records.
    I would therefore like to take the press note dated 14.12.10 of Justice Gokhale as correct unless proved wrong by the present CJI with supporting documents.
    It is in the context of the above that, according to me, in the interest of justice and larger public interest, the CJI, Hon'ble Mr. Justice S.H. Kapadia must take cognizance of the matter and save his brother judge, Justice Gokhale from any further embarrassment.
    If I was in his position I would not have been able to handle this pressure and embarrassment for more then two to three weeks and would have made available the photocopies of the letters date July 2nd, 5th and Aug 8th 2009, available to the press through a supplementary press note.
    However I very strongly recommend that Justice Kapadia must rise to the occasion and put up the factual position before the nation and uphold the faith of his brother judges in particular and the public in general in the highest seat of the judiciary without any further delay.
    Once the factual position is confirmed by the Hon’ble CJI, then the consequential questions like whether Justice Reghupathy, Justice Gokhale and Justice Balakrishnan took the appropriate action as per law or not would be examined by the CJI and the action if any should be taken against those who did not take action as per the law.
    I think I have made my views and perception more clear then before and look forward to your comments.
    Mohali, Punjab


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